In recent years, the beauty industry has gradually started to make a move towards becoming more diverse and inclusive. But while progress has been slow, one sure-fire way to help speed things up is by purchasing from black-owned beauty brands. And while it’s often assumed that these lines only cater to a black audience, you’ll find that the majority of them have inclusivity built into their core, creating a space for all women to feel celebrated and seen. We’ve rounded up some of the most covetable female-founded black-owned beauty brands and their cult products to invest in now.
Award-winning hairdresser and owner of Notting Hill’s thriving boutique salon Hair Lounge, Charlotte Mensah specialises in natural textured hair, from Afro to mixed and curly, and counts Janelle Monáe, Erykah Badu and Jada Smith as regular clients. One of the first to pioneer the natural hair care movement almost 20 years ago, she’s become London’s go-to specialist for those looking to embrace their natural textures and in 2016 she released her own celebrated hair care line. Made from ethically and sustainably sourced Manketti nut and Ximenia seed oil, her shampoos, conditioners, oils and finishing mists revitalise dull, dry or damaged hair with a major hit of hydration.
Manketti Hair Oil, £48
Dubbed by Anna Wintour as “the most influential make-up artist in the world”, Pat McGrath has spent over two decades developing and launching luxury cosmetic brands, as well as working on runway shows, breakthrough advertising campaigns and editorial spreads to create some of the world’s most iconic beauty looks. In 2016 she finally launched Pat McGrath Labs, her hotly anticipated make-up range. First came the limited edition kits that sold out in seconds – now she has a full collection of beautifully packaged, inclusive products, which range from foundations in 36 different shades to densely pigmented eye shadows and universally flattering lipsticks. It’s little wonder, then, that the line was proclaimed a billion dollar brand just two years after launching.
Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection Foundation, £60
With a mission statement that focuses on celebrating the differences in our hair, this multi-culturally minded, London-based brand was born from former beauty writer Loretta De Feo’s frustration at not being able to find a natural range that could cater to the textures of her own curly hair. Her vegan, silicone and sulphate-free shampoos and conditioners are packed full of nourishing ingredients, like repairing quinoa protein, organic coconut oil and shea butter, that work hard to deliver deep hydration and shine to all hair types, but work particularly well on curly and Afro textures.
Deep Conditioner, £22
Organic, eco-friendly and made with the highest quality essential oils and botanicals, this unisex, vegan beauty brand takes sustainability and self-care up a notch. The all natural, plant-based skincare line – which ranges from zingy rosemary and lemongrass body washes to antioxidant-rich face masks and moisturising sunflower and apricot seed oils – are designed to address the concerns of all skin types and shades, whether sensitive or acne-prone, fair or dark. Inspired by husband and wife founders Holly McWhorter and Bjarke Ballisager’s mixed African and Danish heritage, the brand is on a mission to change the beauty landscape by challenging the notion that “only white women are interested in being green consumers”.
Wakey Wakey Organic Body Wash, £20
When Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty in late 2017 she instantly made waves that got the industry – and the wider world – to sit up and listen. Offering more than 40 foundation shades in her first collection, she immediately put long established beauty brands to shame and had women all over the globe buying her inclusive products, which would never fail to sell out as soon as they were released; three years later, every new launch still does. Standout products include her award-winning buildable base, Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, and the Stunna Lip Paint, a weightless, liquid lipstick available in head-turning shades that look incredible on all skin tones.
Body Lava Body Luminizer in Cognac Candy, £46
Briogeo founder Nancy Twine credits her grandmother with igniting her passion for hair care – happy memories include the hours she would spend, aged just five, helping her make homemade products for their tresses. Fast forward a few decades and now she has her own hugely successful line of shampoos, conditioners and masks, after ditching a high-flying career on Wall Street for the laboratory. The brand prides itself on its clean credentials, with all the packaging made from recycled materials and non-toxic formulas that use naturally derived ingredients. Expect a stronger, healthier mane thanks to the abundance of repairing oils and antioxidant rich powerhouses like acai, kiwi and matcha.
Don't Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask, £8.50
Founded by Nigerian-born, London-based former beauty executive Sharon Chuter, Uoma rewrote the rules of inclusivity and diversity when it burst onto the scene last year and launched straight into Selfridges – proof of its instant popularity. It’s not hard to see why it was such an immediate hit – the Afropolitan cosmetics line has 51 shades of foundation and 18 hues of concealer, all packed with powerful skincare ingredients like tomato and berry extract to ward off dullness and woolly thistle extract to help address hyperpigmentation, two common issues found in darker skin tones. Add in pigment-rich lipsticks, vibrant eye shadow palettes and eye-catching packaging and you start to understand why this is one of the most talked about new beauty brands on the market.
Double Take Sculpt and Strobe stick, £34.50
Instagram-worthy packaging and curl enhancing know-how have made Michele Scott-Lynch’s British hair care brand a firm favourite with those in-the-know. Looking for a way to ditch chemical straighteners and embrace her natural hair texture, Scott-Lynch spent years searching for a product that would defrizz, define and nourish her curls. When she realised how few sustainable options there were on the market, she decided to create her own. The eco-friendly range of shampoos, conditioners, stylers and masks are all manufactured in the UK and made from fair trade, naturally active ingredients that breathe new life into even the most lacklustre of curls.
Curl Defining Gel, £15
Founded by long-time friends Cheltenham-based Liha Okunniwa and Londoner Abi Oyepitan, Liha Beauty fuses “African roots and quintessentially British attitudes”, mirroring their own mixed heritages. This innovative, organic small batch skincare and wellness brand is all about embracing slow living and self-care, and draws on the Nigerian tradition of making handmade soaps and creams mixed with traditional British aromatherapy practices. Their natural, vegan products – which range from Ghanaian Shea butter moisturisers and exfoliating soaps to coconut wax candles – are designed and produced in the UK by small, family run businesses and come in beautifully simple recyclable and reusable packaging.
Idan Oil, £39
With a background in integrative health and nutritional coaching, 79 Lux founder Karen Cummings-Palmer specialises in nourishing the body from the inside out. And yet after years of developing and helping to launch health and beauty brands, she was yet to discover the answer to her dry, eczema-prone skin. So she set about creating two powerful skin healers: a regenerating body oil and a nurturing balm. Made in the UK from potent organic botanicals, including rose, frankincense and marula, both products harness anti-inflammatory properties to counterbalance environmental stressors and feed the skin. The results? Smooth, beautifully scented skin with the subtlest hint of a golden glow.
Ultra Nourishing Antioxidant Rich Body Balm, £46
Harley Street-trained Medical Aesthetician and founder of the renowned Bea Skin Clinic in Marylebone, Bianca Estelle created Bea Skin Care to bring cutting-edge cosmeceutical science to everyday products. Catering to a diverse range of skin tones and designed to address a wide variety of common issues, from oily and blemish-prone skin to sensitivity and pigmentation, understanding the individual needs of your skin is a major focus, and something Estelle believes many beauty brands have historically overlooked. The ever-expanding range, which most recently added a nutrient-rich master antioxidant cream to its collection, uses 100% natural ingredients and highly effective formulations to radically improve skin health.
2% Retinol Serum, £54
Born out of London-based, Nigerian-born founder Ozohu Adoh’s failed quest to find luxury skincare that catered to her specific issues and those of other women with darker skin tones – namely hyperpigmentation, dehydration and excess oil production – Adoh decided to start her own line of 10 tailor-made skincare products. Ranging from cleansers and serums to masks and creams, her UK-manufactured formulas are bursting with healing organic and sustainably sourced African botanicals, including cotton thistle flower extract, apricot kernel oil and liquorice root extract.
Hydrating Serum, £126
Founder Nomshado Baca has placed black women of African descent like herself at the heart of her wellness supplement brand. Drawing on a range of African holistic practices and using the nutrient-dense Moringa plant, suspected to be the most powerful natural multi-vitamins and antioxidants on earth, she has created her Raw Moringa Oleifera Leaf Powder, a highly effective anti-inflammatory supplement packed full of over 92 nutrients, 36 anti-inflammatories and 18 amino acids. Sprinkle it over your food, add it to juices and smoothies or mix it into your at-home face masks for a powerful immunity-boosting hit.
Organic Moringa Oleifera Beauty Superpowder, £30
First launched in 2010, every one of serial entrepreneur Samantha Jameson’s artisan handmade soaps, bath and body products celebrates the beauty of London through seven heady scents inspired by locations across the city. For Jameson, these fragrances are sensory trips down memory lane, from the smell of grass on a warm summer’s day on Hackney Marshes to the vibrant mix of aromatic spices that linger in the air on Brick Lane and the refined floral bouquets of Bloomsbury. Made in East London, all of their ingredients are vegan and natural, while their packaging is as beautifully considered as their scents.
Hackney Hand & Body Wash, £16
“When we take time for ourselves, we are feeding positivity into our consciousness that tells us we are worth effort, energy and love,” says The Afro Hair and Skin Company founder Ibi Meier-Oruitemeka – an important message when you consider the numerous ways black hair, skin and features have been stigmatised over the years. Meier Oruitemeka’s antidote comes by way of her award-winning green beauty products, which cater to the specific needs of Afro textured hair and melanin-rich skin. The natural and eco-friendly brand sources its organic British ingredients locally, before making each product – from gentle cleansing shampoo bars to nourishing hair oils and supercharged clay masks – by hand in small batches once a week.
Awaken Reviving Body Treatment Oil, £21.50